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12 Risers and Fallers in Best-Ball Leagues (2020 Fantasy Football)

by Jim Colombo | @WideRightNBlue | Featured Writer
Jun 4, 2020

James Conner could deliver the same phenomenal results we saw from him just two years ago.

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Punch your ticket to Fantasy Land and hop aboard the Best-Ball Express while you can, because this train is leaving the station.

We want to know which NFL players are rising and falling in best-ball fantasy formats, so I used the FantasyPros mock draft simulator to conduct a best-ball mock draft. Then, to determine how players are trending, I compared my mock draft results to those of an earlier mock draft. Fortunately, Jarad Evans completed a best-ball mock draft in February, which gave me a strong basis of comparison.

(For best-ball mock draft tips, check out this article by Sam Hoppen. And if you’re totally new to the best-ball format itself, see Mike Tagliere’s Beginner’s Guide to Best-Ball Leagues.)

With two different draft boards side by side—one from February and one from May—I could see how a player’s ADP evolved over time. It’s not rocket science, but it was quite labor intensive. Anyway, a lot has changed from February to now. Here’s what I found out.

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Risers

Miles Sanders (RB – PHI)
February Draft Position: 3.07 (31)
May Draft Position: 2.06 (18)
Margin of Difference: +13
Did I see something on Twitter the other day about a potential LeSean McCoy revival in Philly? Yikes. Doug Pederson needs to chill on the multi-back mentality, because Miles Sanders is the only guy you really need (although I do love Boston Scott). In any case, Sanders is the perfect back to own in best-ball leagues. When he goes off (and he will go off in 2020), so will your best-ball team. And if he doesn’t? Oh well. No big deal. In best-ball leagues, your highest scorers automatically count toward your point total. So even if Sanders gets out-touched from time to time, it won’t hurt you too much. I’m huge on Sanders this year in just about all formats, but especially in best-ball.

James Conner (RB – PIT)
February Draft Position: 6.05 (65)
May Draft Position: 4.10 (46)
Margin of Difference: +19
Good God, have you seen this diesel image of James Conner in the weight room? It’s no wonder he’s flying up fantasy football draft boards. On the other hand, injury concerns continue to swirl around Conner in Pittsburgh, and the Steelers did select fourth-round rookie rusher Anthony McFarland Jr. Can Conner reclaim his role as the feature back in Pittsburgh? I’m thinking yes, the hometown hero could deliver the same phenomenal results we saw from him just two years ago.

JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR – PIT)
February Draft Position: 4.03 (39)
May Draft Position: 2.02 (14)
Margin of Difference: +25
Speaking of Steelers, how are we feeling about the second coming of JuJu Smith-Schuster? Let’s not forget that he’ll be entering his third pro season at only 23 years old. Despite a disappointing sophomore slump in Steel Town last year, the young receiver should benefit from Big Ben’s return to form in 2020. Best-ball, dynasty, re-draft—whatever—JuJu Smith-Schuster is going to be a hot commodity no matter what league you’re in. But with his stock on the rise, you better you hope your best-ball league drafts sooner than later—that way you can maximize your ROI in what should be a big-bounce back year for JuJu.

David Johnson (RB – HOU)
February Draft Position: 9.04 (100)
May Draft Position: 5.03 (51)
Margin of Difference: +49
I stand proudly as one of the few David Johnson truthers out there in Fantasy Land, so let me say say yes, yes, yes, go get this guy. While Johnson’s not a no-brainer pick in other fantasy football formats, he is a level-10 best-ball candidate. Haters are gonna hate, right? “Bill O’Brien is an idiot.” “David Johnson is washed.” Say what you will, but listen, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And if Carlos Hyde can rumble for a million yards in Houston, David Johnson can, too. Don’t get me wrong—I’d much rather draft David Johnson in the ninth round of best-ball drafts, but I’d still be willing to give him a shot in the fifth. So much so, in fact, that I’m calling it right here, right now: David Johnson will be an NFL Comeback Player of the Year candidate in 2020.

Drew Lock (QB – DEN)
February Draft Position: 17.05 (197)
May Draft Position: 13.09 (153)
Margin of Difference: +44
I’ve gotta level with you here. I don’t know a whole lot about Drew Lock. But according to the pros’ pros, this kid’s got the potential to do some big things in the NFL. What I do know is this: The Denver quarterback has no shortage of offensive talent to work with. Courtland Sutton is coming off a breakout season. Noah Fant is an up-and-coming tight end. Jerry Jeudy! Rookie sensation Jerry Jeudy is headed to Mile High. Put Drew Lock right next to Josh Allen in the shortlist of breakout quarterback kings in 2020. If you can nab Drew Lock in the back end of a best-ball league, do it.

Cole Beasley (WR – BUF)
February Draft Position: 12.12 (144)
May Draft Position: 7.02 (74)
Margin of Difference: +70
I could watch Cole Beasley run routes all day, and I’m not joking. As I compare the data from these two mock drafts, it looks like the low-key slot receiver made the biggest jump up out of any other player. Beasley is the ultimate best-ball player because when he blows up, boy does he blow up. Check out his 2019 game log and you’ll see a couple 100+ games and two separate instances of three straight games with a touchdown reception. And did you know that Beasley clocked 106 targets in 15 games last season? That’s a career-high. Add Stefon Diggs to the perimeter of the Buffalo Bills passing attack, a potentially breakout sophomore season from tight end Dawson Knox, and the inevitable explosion of Josh Allen, and Cole Beasley is going to pay best-ball dividends all season long.

Fallers

Aaron Jones (RB – GB)
February Draft Position: 1.09 (9)
May Draft Position: 2.09 (19)
Margin of Difference: -10
I hate to say it, but I really don’t like Aaron Jones in fantasy football this year. I’ve already identified Jones as a running back to avoid in 2020, so I’ll reiterate: Jones is going to share time in Green Bay with at least two other running backs. Jamaal Williams (who is more talented than some want to realize) and second-round draft pick A.J. Dillion will both be competing for backfield touches alongside Jones. It’s not a great situation, and it’s no surprise to me that Jones is on the slide. If I’m a Jones owner in best-ball leagues (or any other league, for that matter), I’m hoping he starts hot so I can drum up some trade interest and then make a tasty transaction on the spot.

Kenny Golladay (WR – DET)
February Draft Position: 2.07 (17)
May Draft Position: 3.05 (29)
Margin of Difference: -12
This slide came as a bit of a surprise to me as I really do like Kenny Golladay this year. My hunch is that the rumors involved in Matthew Stafford wanting out of Detroit have fantasy managers second-guessing Golladay’s potential. (Also, have you seen Stafford’s home? It’s sick.) From a straight-up fantasy perspective, though, I’m taking Kenny G in the middle of the third round of a best-ball draft and feeling pretty good about it. Don’t buy the “Stafford wants out” hype—he’ll be back under center and slinging early and often to the best receiver on his team. Look for Golladay to, at the very least, match his 65-1,190-11 line from last season.

Zach Ertz (TE – PHI)
February Draft Position: 4.07 (43)
May Draft Position: 8.01 (85)
Margin of Difference: -42
There’s a dude in my home league of unlovable drunks who loves Dallas Goedert. You know, the other tight end in Philly. And frankly, I’m starting to feel the brotherly love. Sure, Ertz caught 88 balls for 916 yards and 6 touchdowns last year, and that’s certainly nothing to sneeze at. But what did Goedert do? In his second season with the Eagles, Goedert hauled in 58 receptions for 607 yards and 5 touchdowns. Goedert’s value in the 15th round is way better than Ertz’s value here in the eighth. True, there are only a few big-name tight ends in the league, and Ertz is among them. Nevertheless, I’m not surprised to see him slide down best-ball boards. I’d rather own Goeddert at his current draft position.

Julian Edelman (WR – NE)
February Draft Position: 6.05
May Draft Position: 4.10
Margin of Difference: -43
Oh, how sweet it is. And yet, I’m not getting too excited about Julian Edelman’s fall from grace. Even without Tom Brady, Edelman can be an absolute terror for opposing defenses. His routes are exquisite. His hands are gold. He’s as tough as they come. Is he a cheap-shot artist? Without question. And yes, I hate his guts. But the dude can play football. Let me say, also, that I won’t be the least bit surprised to see Bill Belichick turn (checks notes) Jarrett Stidham into a more-than-capable quarterback who will leverage the hell out of a weapon like Edelman. But yeah, in best-ball leagues, Edelman’s descent down draft boards stands to reason. On the flip-side, it does make him an intriguing value in the sixth round of drafts, and an even tastier option in later rounds if he continues to slide.

John Ross (WR – CIN)
February Draft Position: 11.06 (126)
May Draft Position: 15.12 (180)
Margin of Difference: -54
I really like John Ross, but the addition of Tee Higgins in Cincinnati is likely to blame for Ross’s depreciating draft position. While Ross has not been extraordinary in the NFL, he’s shown flashes for fantasy owners from time to time. But with just too few stellar seasons to speak of in his short career (there aren’t any, really), the writing might be on the wall for John Ross. That said, the young wideout works primarily out of the slot, so with a flashy new weapon threatening defenses on the outside, there could be room for Ross to attack the middle of the field and deliver some big games in best-ball leagues. In the 15th round? Take a shot. In the 11th round? Eh, not so much.

Carson Wentz (QB – PHI)
February Draft Position: 8.01 (85)
May Draft Position: 13.08 (152)
Margin of Difference: -67
I can’t tell how I feel about Carson Wentz. I know the narrative is that he’s injury-prone, but in his four-year career, he’s only missed eight regular-season games. I know NFL Twitter is divided on him. And as I look more into Wentz now, I’m learning that he recently spoke out against the racial injustices of our society, which I both respect and appreciate. But let’s look at him from a strictly-football perspective. He started all 16 games last season. He completed the most passes for the most yards in his career last season. And entering this season, he’s going to have one of the most electric rookie wide receivers in Jalen Reagor at his disposal. So, what gives? In my best-ball league, I’m hoping Wentz slides even further so I can take a stab at him late and reap the rewards while I can.

Welp, that about wraps up our journey on the Best-Ball Express. Thanks for coming along for the ride. Until next time, hit up FantasyPros on Twitter, and don’t forget to follow yours truly below. Thanks for reading.

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Jim Colombo is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Jim, check out his archive and follow him @WideRightNBlue.

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